Quarterbacks. In the NFL, either you got one, or you’re looking for one. For the Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and—potentially—Detroit Lions, the 2023 NFL Draft could provide the answer to solving each team’s biggest question. With a total of 14 names in new homes following draft night, here are the signal-callers that are best set up for success on game day.
1. Hendon Hooker (Lions)
Hooker will most likely sit behind Jared Goff to start the 2023 campaign, but I would not be shocked if he appears at some point during the season. I’ve heard from Hooker’s camp that he’ll be good to go for the regular season, and he will not sit quietly in the rearview mirror of Goff. The team will get back Jameson Williams after six weeks to join Amon-Ra St. Brown and Marvin Jones Jr. Those players plus 2023 NFL Draft selections in tight end Sam LaPorta and running back/flex weapon Jahmyr Gibbs could bring showtime to the Motor City.
2. Anthony Richardson (Colts)
While the front five has room to improve, the presence of Jonathan Taylor, Michael Pittman Jr, Alec Pierce, and fellow 2023 draft selection Josh Downs presents a nice array of weapons to use at his disposal. With a group of perimeter targets—outside of Downs and Isaiah McKenzie—that rivals the size of an NBA starting lineup, I expect Richardson to enjoy success early in Indianapolis. Working under Shane Steichen won’t hurt, either.
Richardson has one of the cleanest paths to NFL success from strictly a correlation perspective among all QBs in the class. A tight ends room that touts a 6-foot-7 Jelani Woods, 6-foot-6 Mo Alie-Cox, and an underappreciated tight end in the 2023 class in the form of 6-foot-4 Will Mallory will provide immediate red zone threats as well.
3. C.J. Stroud (Texans)
We all know Houston is rebuilding, but I don’t think we have given enough credit to the skill players that they do have. I like Dalton Schultz at tight end, Dameon Pierce is a stud in the backfield, and they added both Tank Dell and Xavier Hutchinson to a pass-catching group that won’t overwhelmingly impress but includes Robert Woods, Noah Brown, and a hopefully full-go John Metchie III this fall. Add in a blindside protector like Laremy Tunsil and Stroud should feel good about the guys around him.
4a. Bryce Young (Panthers)
D.J. Moore is no longer in Carolina and I’m sure the Panthers wish they still had Christian McCaffrey, but they are building around their new face of the franchise with a couple of pieces that I like. I can’t wait to see Jonathan Mingo work in this offense, plus Miles Sanders is a veteran that can serve a variety of roles, as can DJ Chark and Adam Thielen. Hayden Hurst is a nice piece at tight end, and 2022 first-rounder Ikem Ekwonu will allow Young to remain upright in the pocket. They have a ways to go, but there are some athletes in place for some pop.
4b. Will Levis (Titans)
Look, I really like Treylon Burks and the backfield tandem of Derrick Henry and Tyjae Spears, but I’m reaching for positives. Hopefully, they present TE Chig Okonkwo with a larger target share, but Kyle Philips, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Racey McMath just won’t scare anyone. Colton Dowell was a sleeper add for me as a big, athletic kid out of UT-Martin and I think he’ll be a camp darling, but expectations must be tempered there.
Up front, Peter Skoronski will batten down the hatches wherever he aligns. Still, it looks like Tennessee is going to align with Andre Dillard and Nick Petit-Frere as their bookend tackles, which worries me a ton as two unproven athletes. They’ll continue to make their money in the ground game with Henry, but more juice is needed on the outside before I begin to get excited about this team’s potential as a balanced attack.
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